Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Walz Urge Administration to Provide Crucial Funding for Lewis & Clark Water System

Feb 4, 2016 Issues: Congressional Issues, Economy and Jobs

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, today urged the Administration to provide crucial funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS). Congress recently approved an additional $47 million for work on authorized Bureau of Reclamation water projects. In a bipartisan letter to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, the lawmakers pressed for strong funding to advance construction on the Lewis and Clark project. When completed, the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles and provide drinking water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota. The letter was also signed by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), and Mike Rounds (R-SD), as well as Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and Kristi Noem (R-SD).

“Authorized rural water projects within the BOR play a key role in providing reliable, quality drinking water to communities in our states,” the lawmakers wrote. “One such project, the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS), is an authorized BOR rural water project that when complete will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles. As you consider how to allocate the funding for ongoing projects, we request the strongest possible level of funding for the LCRWS project to advance construction in a meaningful way.”

The full text of the lawmakers’ bipartisan letter is below:

Dear Commissioner López:

The Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill provides the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) with an additional $47 million for ongoing work on authorized rural water projects. Authorized rural water projects within the BOR play a key role in providing reliable, quality drinking water to communities in our states. One such project, the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS), is an authorized BOR rural water project that when complete will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles. As you consider how to allocate the funding for ongoing projects, we request the strongest possible level of funding for the LCRWS project to advance construction in a meaningful way. 

In 2000, Congress authorized LCRWS to supply high quality, dependable drinking water to more than 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota. Since this project was authorized, the federal government has committed nearly $230 million to the Lewis & Clark system. The Lewis & Clark project is currently 67 percent complete and has seen significant investment at the local, state, and federal level, allowing for the construction of intake wells, a water treatment plant, pumping stations, and pipelines that now connect 12 of the 20 member systems.  Local project sponsors and the three states have collectively prepaid 100 percent of the non-federal cost share of $154 million. In addition, over the past two years Minnesota has provided $41 million and South Dakota has provided $8.7 million in state money to advance the project. The remaining cost to finish the entire project is just over $200 million.

Rural water projects generate both short-term and long-term economic activity and expand economic development opportunities. The member communities awaiting connection to LCRWS have shown the ability to attract economic development if sufficient water supply is made available through the project, but a lack of the necessary resources for the timely completion of this critical infrastructure project has thwarted economic progress.

We look forward to working with you until the LCRWS project is complete and the federal government has fulfilled its commitment to LCRWS project partners. 

Sincerely,

###